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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Dec 29 2007 3:27am
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Moving my EDH deck Online
Elder Dragon Highlander is a semi-casual format that has been most heavily played by judges working on the Pro Tour, and by their casual play groups. Sheldon Menery was – and is - a driving force behind the format. I played, and won, Sheldon’s first EDH challenge, at Worlds in 2004, and have been playing EDH ever since.  At Pro Tours and so forth, I have first claim to Nicol Bolas. 
So I gotta play it online, of course. 
I wrote about my EDH deck, and the EDH games, in my Worlds report. It’s over on, here. That version of the deck was nasty, with a hard lock. My deck could – and did – open the game with Mox, Sol Ring, Black Lotus, Land Equilibrium, Sphere of Resistance. What that meant was that no other players could play lands because of Land Equilibrium, and that no other players could play spells because Sphere of Resistance increased the costs of even things like Chrome Mox or other Moxen.
I play a far more casual version of EDH now days. I have dismantled the combo versions. At present, I usually carry three EDH decks to major events. I sometimes loan some out to judges without decks of their own, but I also switch between decks and play all three. Two use generals not yet available online – but Nicol Bolas is online already. I’ll share both my paper and online versions. 
First a couple words about EDH online. I have heard some people gripping about EDH appearing before various bugs were fixed. It was not a case of one or the other. Elf and Lee Sharp wrote the rules for the format in their spare time. They created this instead of taking a break, or hanging with friends. They did this because they love the format. (I can attest to that – I remember playing EDH with elf from midnight to after 5am one morning – great games.)  
Lee, elf: thanks for EDH.
My paper decklist includes a number of cards that are not on MTGO. It also is missing a couple cards I plan on adding soon, in my copious free time. Still, it is a reasonable place to start. Here’s the decklist. I’ll link cards that are MTGO legal. For older cards, the best source for pictures, wording, etc., is either the official wizards’, or online stores like or
Here’s my general: 
Nicol Bolas
And here's my deck:
Lands Mana Artifacts
8 Island
6 Swamp
6 Mountain
Reflecting Pool
Volrath's Stronghold
Polluted Delta
Bloodstained Mire
Flooded Strand
(Crosis Caverns)
Volcanic Island
Underground Sea
should be there but aren't yet
Creatures More Creatures
Coffin Queen
Dominating Licid
Gilded Drake
Karn, Silver Golem
(Vesuvian Doppelganger)
Viashino Heretic
Wall of Souls
Demonic Tutor
Corpse Dance
Vampiric Tutor
Predator, Flagship
Cryptic Command
Living Death
Recurring Nightmare
Rhystic Study
Let’s start with the basics. You want a solid mana base. Unless you are single colored, that means a number of nonbasics, plus the fetchlands and other land searchers to get those lands. In EDH, the color of your general defines your colors: you cannot play any cards that are colors your general is not. My general is Nicol Bolas, so I can play artifacts and red, blue or black cards. I can’t play cards with green or white in the casting costs – not even split mana costs like Giant Solifuge. Likewise, my City of Brass will only tap for R, U or B.
A solid mana base means that I run the duals, the fetchlands, the Ravnica bouncelands and some multicolored lands, like CoB and Undiscovered Paradise. I also want to run some mana artifacts. I have had good luck with Journeyer’s Kite, although I don’t have one in my paper EDH deck at the moment. All my paper copies are in other decks – ditto my Coalition Relics.  Right now, I have some signets and talismans in the deck. Those may leave once I get another Relic and/or Kite. 
It is also worth considering land cyclers, especially Eternal Dragon or Twisted Abomination.
Next up are a couple staples of EDH design – board sweepers. Most EDH games involve a lot of people developing fairly threatening board positions, and sometimes a global reset is the only alternative to losing. The two splashable resets are Oblivion Stone and Nev’s Disk, and both see a lot of play. For those playing GB, and who have deep pockets, Pernicious Deed is great, while Plague Boiler is a budget alternative. White players can play Akroma’s Vengeance. 
Whatever your general, you want to have some method of clearing the board. Global sweepers are good, but even creature sweepers are worth playing. I have seen a lot of copies of Wrath of God and Damnation.
I have been running Corrosion in my paper EDH deck. It works well in paper, because paper players run a lot more artifacts. It is best in small games, where the target player can be hit more often. It was also a total beating in my (Mycrosynth Lattice) builds, because the Lattice would make all lands artifacts, and a single turn of targeting with Corrosion would destroy all their lands. In this build, it is not as good. 
Next up, you want card drawing. I run Sensei’s Divining Top, which couples well with the shuffle effects produced by fetchlands, Thawing Glaciers and with Journeyer’s Kite. That entire package is colorless, so it can fit in any deck. My general is also blue, so I can run blue card drawing. I love Brainstorm and Ponder, and would run Fact or Fiction if I could afford an online copy. (I am not running a copy in my paper deck because I consciously decided to downgrade my paper deck. It was too good, and I wanted more casual games, so I cut some of the power cards. It may come back.) I have toyed with Opportunity, but am experimenting with Braingeyser at the moment.
I also run some targeted removal. Terminate kills practically every enemy generals. Ribbons of Night was an experiment, and while the lifegain is nice, I suspect I will soon replace it with Duplicant or Sudden Death. Twisted Justice is a nice trick, and draws a lot of cards, but it is not necessarily the best option. It is, on the other hand, a lot of fun.
I do run a lot of dedicated removal, but I try hard to make all my removal do double duty. Terminate is a fine spell, but Wrecking Ball is slightly more flexible, while the greater cost is usually not a problem in a format like this one. (I also admit that I play Wrecking Ball partly because I have a foil version, from a draft long ago. However, cards like Spite / Malice or Profane Command are just more versatile than a glorified Terror
Dead cards suck. Things like Charms and other modal cards are so much better than straight vanilla cards. Which reminds me – have I got room for Ebony Charm? No, not really.
I have also run some pingers, at times. Masques block has a 0/4 wall that doubles as a Prodigal Sorcerer, but I have not been running that recently. I have also run Eater of the Dead and Arcane Teachings or Viridian Longbow – but that is the sort of combo that MTGO does not really support.   In paper Magic, I can say “ping you, target that card for removal, in response ping you again – repeat until you are dead,” and it works. On MTGO, I have to hold keys to keep priority, and then click through the whole thing 40-50 times per player. Not worth it. 
I’ll start listing the deck section by section.  Card drawing is the most important, so let’s start there.
Ancestral Vision
Candles of Leng
Future Sight
Gifts Ungiven
1  Mind’s EyeSyphon Mind
Tainted Pact
Sensei's Divining Top
Thirst for Knowledge
Tainted Pact
Syphon Mind is fun in multiplayer, where it is often 3-4 cards for 2B. The big winners in a highlander format, like EDH, are Candles of Leng and Tainted Pact. Pact, especially, is amazing. It gets what you need for 1B, at instant speed, and with very little risk. No risk if you add more non-basics.
In general, the important thing is to have enough card drawing. Multiplayer games are never as much fun when you are drawing off the top of your library as when you have cards in hand.
Moving on, here are the lands and mana artifacts. Not much to say here, except that I hope no one plays Armageddon

Before I move on to creatures, I want to share a techy little idea borrowed from the paper 5color community. Here it is:
Vedalken Orrery
You see, Magic is supposed to be played during your opponent’s end step. Nothing good can happen if you cast creatures during your turn, then wait while your opponents find answers. You want to play creatures, then untap and beat. Likewise, sorceries and enchantments are much better EoT. You can keep mana for counters up early, then cast cards as necessary. 
From 5color history: Orrery in play. It’s the end of my turn. Opponent: Time Walk. Regrowth targeting Time Walk. Time Walk. I did not win that one.
Another great Vedalken Orrery moment:  Player A casts Braingeyser for 10 cards (okay, technically it was Stroke of Genius, which is a better Braingeyser, but I’m translating it to MTGO.) Player B casts Chains of Mephistopheles in response.  
Moving on, here are the creatures I am running. No, they are not all rares. Mulldrifter is a common.   As for the rest – yes, money is involved. Sorry. At least my general is cheap. Remember, however, that my deck is heavy on removal, and I have a lot of creatures from a lot of sets from which to choose. 
Aeon Chronicler
Avatar of Woe
Bane of the Living
Empress Galina
Flametongue Kavu
Keiga, the Tide Star
Nicol Bolas
Platinum Angel
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Solemn Simulacrum
Tsabo Tavoc
Venser, Shaper Savant
Tsabo Tavoc and Empress Galina are techy for this format. The only problem is that players occasionally choose them as generals, which means that are then only useful for pitching to Thirst for Knowledge. 
I don’t play a lot of creatures. That does not mean I lack for win conditions. If someone else has a good one, I’ll borrow it.   Here are my “steal your stuff cards.” The only one I’m missing – and it is something I need to find a spot for – is Nezumi Graverobber. Eating Eternal Witness targets, and so forth, is often important. 
Beacon of Unrest
Blatant Thievery
Grab the Reins
Take Possession
Grab the Reins doubles as removal. It may become Sower of Temptation soon, but I’m not convinced that I can keep Sower alive. 
A couple cards don’t really fit into any categories. I run a pair of equipment cards: Lightning Greaves and Sword of Fire and Ice. The Greaves are amazing, mainly as a way of keeping removal off my dudes. Swords is just solid, even if I do not run enough creatures to make it good. 
Chainer's Edict
Crosis's Charm
Fire // Ice
Nevinyrral's Disk
Oblivion Stone
Profane Command
Rise // Fall
Wrecking Ball

I won a match last week with the Rise // Fall. I bounced his last flier, then Nicol came over for the third time, and he died to the 21 from any general rule. 

Finally, I run a short permission suite. Cryptic Command is fun, and the Force of Will is in there because I just busted it in MED limited. Last, but not quite least, is Spite // Malice.   That card is so good at times – and somewhat marginal at others. 
And that’s the lot – at the moment. I keep modifying the deck. I really want to keep adding cards, and trying to find things to cut. The adding cards is easy. The cutting – not so much.
Enough writing: time to go find a game.
“one million words” on MTGO


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 12/30/2007 - 01:20
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

fballs, ytmnd is down!

by urzishra14 at Sat, 12/29/2007 - 17:30
urzishra14's picture

congrats on busting a FOW in MED Limited..

 I loved the article.. these are how deck analysis articles should be written.. it seems like a fun format and I can't wait to build some decks to play with